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God's Covenant with David

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17

In 2 Samuel 7, we find David’s God-honoring desire replaced by God’s perfect plan. Here we find the great covenant the Lord made with David and his descendants. Most prominent among those descendants is Jesus Christ, through whom all the promises to David will be realized.


David is now king over all the tribes of Israel. He has already experienced great success in conquering Jerusalem and making it his capital, uniting the divided nation, and defeating his Philistine enemies. He has even brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, making it again central to Israel’s worship and life. 

As for David himself, he is living in a mansion of cedar, built for him as a gift from another king. Yet as 2 Samuel chapter 7 opens, it becomes clear that David believes something is still missing. Here are the first two verses:

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”

The implication is obvious: he wants to build a “house” for the ark of the Lord. At the moment, that ark is sitting in a makeshift tent nearby. 

Nathan is introduced here for the first time; he’s a prophet and a trusted adviser. His immediate response to David in verse 3 is, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”  

But that same night, the Lord speaks to Nathan and tells him to give David a different message. Verses 5-7:  

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day . . . Did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel . . . saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’”

You get the idea that God does not want a temple. But over in the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 17:4, Nathan is told, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in.’”

Even though this is an honorable desire, the Lord never asked David to build Him a temple. Over in 1 Chronicles 22:8, David tells his son Solomon why: 

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth.’”

So, Nathan relays this discouraging answer to David; but he has some encouraging news as well. Here in verses 12 through 16 David receives what we call the Davidic covenant, in which God promises David three things: a house, a kingdom, and a throne. The house—the house of David—will begin a dynasty of kings, beginning with his son Solomon. Solomon is the “offspring” mentioned in verse 12. Verse 13 says of Solomon, “He shall build a house for my name.” So, the temple is going to be constructed, not by David, but by Solomon. 

The Lord also says in this covenant, regarding Solomon, He will “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (verse 13). This promise is repeated in verse 16 in reference to David. Solomon marks the beginning of David’s “house” and kingdom. 

Verse 16 now gives us the heart of the great Davidic covenant in the words of the Lord: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” 

Again, “house” refers to David’s descendants. In other words, the line of David will always exist and will always be the true royal line. “Kingdom” refers to a political kingdom. And the “throne” speaks of the authority of a king. Now beloved, there is no reason to spiritualize this covenant and make it anything less than literal promises of a literal house, a literal kingdom, and a literal throne.

Even though the succession of David’s royal descendants will be interrupted, his house, kingdom, and throne are now established forever. And let me tell you, we know what David here did not know—that ultimately this covenant is going to be fulfilled through David’s Descendant, Jesus Christ. 

Indeed, this promise through Nathan is confirmed a thousand years later when an angel shows up in Luke chapter 1 and announces to a young virgin named Mary—a descendant of David—that she will give birth to Jesus the Messiah. The angel says to her:

And the Lord God will give to him [Jesus] the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (verses 32-33)

So, David’s kingdom will be reestablished by David’s royal Descendant, Jesus. Has that happened yet? Last time I looked Jesus wasn’t reigning in Jerusalem on a throne. No, this is ultimately fulfilled when Jesus returns to earth one day, according to Revelation 19, and reigns on earth in His millennial kingdom. 

Beloved, it’s important to grasp this irrevocable, unconditional covenant with David. One day we will see it all fulfilled.

Now David’s dream was to build a temple for the Lord. But God said no because He had bigger plans for David than a temporary temple. 

You may have had some dreams of your own that were God-honoring, but God said no and didn’t explain why that door remained closed. Well, take heart from David here; his response to God is quite an example for us. He doesn’t argue. In fact, we are told that David “went in and sat before the LORD” (verse 18). I love that. David goes into that tent where the ark is sitting, and he spends a long time alone, talking with the Lord, surrendering to the Lord’s will. Then he says, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” 

Wow! What humility and gratitude and joyful surrender to God we see here. David even turns that prayer meeting into a praise meeting in verse 22, declaring, “There is none like you, and there is no God besides you.” Instead of focusing on what God would not let him do, He focuses on who God is and what God’s grace has already done in his life. PQ

This is convicting, isn’t it? How do we respond when God shuts a door or says no to some dream or desire? Do we really trust the Lord when He says no; or no, not yet; or no, not that? Do we sit around feeling sorry for ourselves or surrender to His will for our lives?

Well, look at David here. He now knows that his son Solomon, not him, is going to build the magnificent temple for the Lord, and instead of pouting, he starts planning.

Over in 1 Chronicles 22, we read this: 

David . . . set stonecutters to prepare dressed stones for building the house of God. David also provided great quantities of iron for nails for the doors of the gates . . . as well as bronze in quantities beyond weighing, and cedar timbers without number . . . So David provided materials in great quantity. (verses 2-5)

Let’s imitate David here. Let’s not try to get God to change His mind and open a door that He has closed. Let’s look for the door He has opened; let’s walk through it with humility and trust and joy for His grace in our lives today and say with David, there is no one like the Lord our God!

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